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Minister says North's missiles detected by combined S. Korea-U.S. assets

Politics 16:51 September 14, 2021

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's long-range cruise missiles launched over the weekend were detected by the joint assets of South Korea and the United States, and an initial analysis is still underway, Defense Minister Suh Wook said Tuesday.

Suh made the remarks in response to lawmakers' questions during the National Assembly's interpellation session, where he was intensively asked if the military had detected the North's latest missile launches.

Defense Minister Suh Wook answers lawmakers' questions about North Korea's recent long-range missile launches during an interpellation session at the National Assembly in Seoul on Sept. 14, 2021. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Pyongyang's media announced the North successfully test-fired long-range cruise missiles over the weekend and they hit a target 1,500 kilometers away after flying 7,580 seconds, or 126 minutes. Following the announcement, however, some critics pointed out the South Korean military may have failed to detect the missile launches.

Suh said "yes" when asked if the detection by the joint assets was accurate.

"We did detect the missiles through the South Korea-U.S. combined assets and are now conducting an initial analysis," Suh said, refusing to elaborate on when and how they detected the firings.

When asked whether he could not give a specific answer because the detection was part of the allies' special intelligence, the minister said, "It is difficult to tell in detail, but we are analyzing detailed specifications through cooperation with the U.S."

Regarding North Korea's cruise missile technology level, Suh said, "We've learned the North began developing such missiles in the early 2000s and has accumulated related technologies."

He was also asked about the need to reinforce the nation's air defense system and said, "We have a detection and interception system against the North's cruise missiles. We will continue to review and complement the defense system down the road."

ycm@yna.co.kr
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